Day trip adventure turns into serious horse play
EDITORS NOTE: GLOB Communications Coordinator Tonya Marie Upton is a feature writer, and the GLOB's newly appointed Day Tripper Gainesville escape artist. Tonya recently relocated to North Florida and is enjoying discovering Florida while constantly living in a day trip adventure mode.
How many times have you driven past the white fences bordering the Haile Plantation subdivision on Tower Road soaking in the scenery of beautiful grazing horses? It's a good feeling and it makes the area interesting. Does it bring back forgotten desires or a childhood longing to ride a horse?
Don't let adulthood stop you, I'm so glad I didn't. No matter if you have ever been around a horse, grab a couple of carrots and visit the barn at Haile Plantation Equestrian Center. This is a trip to a place you can experience what your inner desires are whispering to you. This farm in the middle of West Gainesville surburbia is a magical place where I'm thinking you will learn more about yourself, than you will about the horses.
My daughter Kendall is a happy middle schooler and recently started taking lessons at Haile Equestrian. I have really enjoyed the time I get to spend around the horses during her lessons.
That's where my inspiration came from for this feature. I was telling my daughter how lucky I thought she was, and that I had always wanted to take horseback riding lessons.
Kendall's astute, savvy middle school response, "so why don't you?"
There it was – simple.
For years I have been denying myself of an inner dream. Of course I used the same excuses most adults come up with to limit my equine excitement. There's too much work, all the household between school and kids duties," all these reasons for denial made sense at the time.
Then I thought to myself, about myself, for myself.
I'm going to take these riding lessons just like my daughter.
I spoke with the Haile Plantation Equestrian Center owner Regina Esterman and I booked my first horse back riding lesson in rapid time.
The Equestrian Center has several instructors at the facility and my first lesson was with Sarah, Kendall's instructor.
Sarah's, photo right, love for horses and people relaxed me for my first lesson. I learned how to groom my horse, and to get him ready to ride. I also learned how to laugh at myself.
Riding a horse is not as easy as the movies would lead you to believe. Learning to ride and handle a horse turned out to be a very big challenge. A challenge that made me feel good about myself.
Once on the horse, I thought easy, there was a part of me that wanted to take off in a full run with the horse. I am so glad I resisted that temptation. As I rode Jewell for a few minutes going from a walk, to a fast walk, and then to a trot I realized I was not ready to go any faster.
Here's a first time horse rider note: There are muscles in your legs that you must develop to keep yourself attached to the equine traveling at high speed.
The muscles I use for bike riding and other exercising did not have me ready to riding Jewell .
My suggestion to GLOBers after this day trip excursion is if riding a horse is something you have always wanted to do, throw your caution to the wind and replace it with the wind whistling through the horses ears while you are riding.
Horse enthusiast Juli Carson says it best: "When riding a horse we leave our fear, troubles, and sadness on the ground."
Haile Equestrian is a perfect place for beginners as well as seasoned riders. They have many different horse programs available including riding lessons, horse leasing, to boarding.
They're not horsing around at the Haile Equestrian youth summer camps . Student riders are kept busy with two riding lessons a day. During the class students paint horses, wash their horses, and learn many important barn and riding practices to become a good horse owners.
Did you know horses change lives? They allow kids to learn the meaning of responsibility while instilling valuable confidence building experience and self esteem.
I have witnessed it first hand with my daughter. After starting riding lessons she discovered there was more to a horse than just what she could get out of it. Riding comes with responsibility to take care of the horse. There is no lesson without first caring for the horses needs and no lesson ended with out cleaning the horse and rewarding it with a treat. Some of that responsibility has run over to her chores at home. She seems more eager to clean up after herself. Kids need something to be passionate about to keep them focused at school and help offset social pressures. I am very happy that Kendall would rather be at the barn than just hanging out with idle hands.
Horses can provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls – they give us hope.
Since I am now officially hooked on taking a few more riding lessons at Haile, I'm thinking a good pair of riding boots would make this whole horse adventure more comfortable. Naturally I had no idea where to go for riding boots and Regina asserted her riding acumen and provided me a few names of horse riding and tack stores places that would have just what I needed.
First stop Bits & Spurs Tack owned by Suzanne Holton. Suzanne was very knowledgeable about every thing that has to do with horses. Not only does she own a few of the four-legged carrot eating babies, she also manages BS&T.
I loved right away the intimate feeling of store filled with so many nice, home on the range items. I'm not sure what many of the things are, but they were very neat to look at.
Suzanne was helpful and spent time explaining everything and answering all my questions. Along with a nice variety of tack and riding cloths BS&T also carries a good section of used boots, saddles, riding pants and various other things.
That makes it nice so you can save on the initial horse gear investment. She did not carry the exact boots, I was looking for but no need to look anywhere else. The GLOB Master suggested I take Texas songwriter Robert Earl Keen's advice and look into a pair of armadillo skin boots.
Susan brought out a bunch of catalogues and took time to go through them with me discussing which items were best based on my needs. Bits & Spurs Tack could order anything I wanted, and I wanted it all . . .
Thanks Susan! It's nice to be aware of a shop and owner that takes this kind of time with their customers, I'll be back.
Latest from Mike S. GLOB Master
Nicole Thursday, 27 September 2012 10:22 Comment Link
Loved reading this Tonya! My daughter has a love also for horseback riding and takes lesson here in NC! I'm ready to pack my bags and head down to Florida again and maybe hit up a few of these places you've been writing about!
Kelly Butler Wednesday, 26 September 2012 23:46 Comment Link
Great story Tonya!!! After I read this, I closed my eyes a second and could see your bright beautiful smile. After reading the first couple of words, I could actually hear your voice telling this story...I'm proud of you! I love and miss you~ cuz Kelly
James Wednesday, 26 September 2012 23:29 Comment Link
Well, I'm impressed, makes me want to get involved in a local horse farm. Great job!
LeAnne Wright Friday, 21 September 2012 19:12 Comment Link
i loved Day Trippin' wonderful the girls look awsome
shane crews Friday, 21 September 2012 17:54 Comment Link
Love,love,loved Day trippin':-)Great job TMU..
Christine Barnhart Friday, 21 September 2012 11:19 Comment Link
Great article Tonya Upton...you have a flair for writing and now horseback riding. I look forward to reading more.
Christine Barnhart (Sam' Mom)
Ed Upton Friday, 21 September 2012 11:05 Comment Link
Just like a great book, couldn't put it down, had to ride all the way to the finish!